The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A fit place for an Englifh Factory, along the Hogohegee R., the Head whereof very little known

Via Flutterby is this wonderful site of historical maps. I was checking out A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements adjacent thereto (1746) when I came across a Ft. Barnwell in North Carolina, built in 1712.

Ft. Barnwell was named for one John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell who fought the Tuscarora in that area in 1711-12. And John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell is an ancestor of mine (on my mom's side of the family—she was a Barnwell). How cool is that?

Monday, May 06, 2013

The only people that get rich with “get-rich-quick” schemes are those that are selling the “get-rich-quick” scheme.

From
XXXXXXXXXXXX <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
To
sean@conman.org
Subject
Chuck Stebbins
Date
Mon, 6 May 2013 12:57:39 -0400

Sean,

Read your "Tampogo" article while researching Chuck Stebbins. Chuck is now with a company called XXXXXX XXXXX. Actually the name of the company is changing to XXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX is the website.

I've invested some money with this company and awaiting the next step. If you have any insight or interest in Chuck's new business, please let me know.

He's writing in reference to one of four entries about Tampogo. I haven't really given it much thought since I wrote the articles four years ago, and it's interesting to note that the company no longer appears to be around (fancy that).

I can't find any connection between Chuck Stebbins and this “new” company, which is selling an opportunity to sell some diet-aid product. It's not coming across completely as a “multi-level marketing” scam, but some of the numbers the introductory video is showing are misleading.

Okay, the thrust appears to be you “invest” $5,000, and in return you get 10 tablet computers (wouldn't surprise me if they wholesale around $60/piece) for an “in-store interactive display”, 100 units of the diet product, and some guides about shilling selling the product. You place the “in-store interactive displays” in stores (nail salons, doctor offices, car washes(?!)) and split the profits 50/50 with the store.

Okay, sounds straightforward to me. But here are some numbers the introductory video is currently showing (not the full table, but enough to show what's going on with the numbers):

Small POP Reinvestment Model, $5,000 Investment, 50/50 with retail partner
    Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
Reinvestment 12%   900 1,238
POP Units   10 14 19
Sales   15,000 20,625 28,359
Cost of POPs 240 2,400 900 1,238
Gross Income   7,500 10,313 14,180
Network Fee 50 500 688 945
Retail Partner   2,300 4,363 5,998
Your Gross   2,300 4,363 5,998
Labor Route Help 0 0 1,500
Your Net   2,300 4,363 4,498

Now, the “product” is $50 (okay, $49.95). Month 1 assumes the “starting package,” that you place them all out on day 1, and 30 (or 28, 29, or 31) days later. The numbers are largely consistent, although it helps to look at things slightly differently:

Month 1 revenue on 300 units sold (10 per POP)
Gross Income 15,000
Inventory -7,500
Network Fee -500
Cost of POPs -2,400
Retail Partner-2,300
Net Income 2,300

That makes it easier to see what is going where.

One issue already—the “starter pack” only comes with 100 units; that's still 200 units short of this projection, and so you need to spend (from what I can determine using these numbers) another … um … $5,000 just to top of the inventory (ouch) [this company also claims that the “starter pack” is worth $11,495, but given the figures from this, it's actually worth around $7,500 unless they really expect the POP units to retail at around $500 a piece—in any case, just looking at the numbers presented in their introductory video just … yeah … not good].

But the real issue I have is with that 12% reinvestment. $900 is not 12% of $2,300 (it's more like 40%!). No, that 12% is based off the gross income minus the inventory (or $7,500). That's before all other expenses! Okay, let's roll that in:

Revised Month 1 revenue on 300 units sold (10 per POP)
Gross Income 15,000
Inventory -7,500
Network Fee -500
Cost of POPs -2,400
Retail Partner -2,300
“Reinvestment” -900
Net Income 1,400

Ouch. Okay, now let's look at month 2:

Month 2 revenue on
Gross Income 20,625
Inventory -10,312
Network Fee -688
Cost of POPs -960
Retail Partner -4,333
“Reinvestment” -1,238
Net Income 3,095

And already the numbers are in trouble. Not only is that 12% “reinvestment” pre-net, but it's not even enough to support the additional POPs—it's actually $60 short! Also, the sales figure is bogus because I can't make it come out to whole number of units and the number. In fact, the numbers for months two and three are close but not quite right (averaging a bit under 30 units per POP per month).

And that 12% reinvestment figure is criminal, given how they've defined it, and the cost of the POPs across the months is inconsistent (some months what is listed is actually less that what it would really be; other months it's a bit more).

But the biggest problem I see is the end-game. At the end of year 2, they “show” you earning over $1,000,000 a year. But in order to get that, you need to have 332 POPs. That's quite a feat, but maybe doable. But when you start having two, three, ten, people all doing the same thing in the same area?

Um … good luck?

Really, all I'm doing here is applying basic math to the figures given. That, and some common sense (which does seem to be in short supply these days) and personally—this is a business I would give a pass on.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

“Star Trek Into Darkness”

Bunny and I went to see the latest Star Trek movie, “Star Trek Into Darkness,” the latest film in the rebooted Star Trek universe. And overall, we both enjoyed the film. While not a perfect film (unlike the expertly plotted “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) it is a fun film.

Visually the film was stunning with the alien worlds looking, well, alien, instead of a sound stage filled with foam rocks or the California desert and the use of CGI not completely obvious (due to either a lot of time and effort into the effects, or the frenetic pace of editing, a complaint I had about the previous film). Also, to my relief, less lens flares in this film.

But that's not to say this film was flawless—far from it. The first major problem I had with the film was the tribble. Yes, it wasn't gratuitous—it did serve the plot of the film—but … tribbles? In the original series, they were creatures that multiplied faster than rabbits and infested the entire ship. Here … well, to me, it just seemed like the wrong choice for that particular plot point (yes, this is a spoiler-free review).

Also, this film could have used more Dr. McCoy. Karl Urban is wonderful as Dr. McCoy and it's a shame he doesn't get as much screen time as Captain Kirk or Mr. Spock (on the plus side, they toned down the physical comedy of Scotty and made his alien sidekick tolerable).

Another major complaint—they made too many references to previous Star Trek material, as if the studio just doesn't trust the audience to enjoy the film without using certain Star Trekkian tropes. Besides the obvious tribble, you have McCoy parodying himself when he goes “Damn it man, I'm a doctor, not a XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX!”; violating the Prime Directive (in the opening action sequence); explicitly referencing red shirts and the worst moment in the film that I won't mention (because it totally spoils the film) but you will certainly know it when you see it (and man, you see it coming a parsec away).

But to the film makers' credit, the ending isn't quite the deus ex machina it could have been—it was foreshadowed, so props for that.

Overall, I can recommend it. Just don't think too hard about it (why is the Enterprise underwater? Okay, it's because the plot needs for it to be underwater, but it still wasn't explained in universe) and enjoy it for what it is, a science fiction action movie set in the Star Trek Universe.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Escherian Stairwell at RIT

Are you prepared to have your mind blown? Ready? Okay, check out the Escherian Stairwell. And while you are puzzling over that, remember the words of Sherlock Holmes: “that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” (links via GoogleMyFacePlusSpaceBook).

Obligatory Picture

[Don't hate me for my sock monkey headphones.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2017 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.